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Leading CEOs Discuss Their Intrinsic Elements of Success

June 15, 2017

 By Laura Myers

Every year, Gartner publishes its report, The Magic Quadrant for Web Content Management, and every year the industry waits to see where and how those little blue dots will move about, as a reflection of Gartner’s in-depth analysis of leading vendors. 

Looked upon by many as a guide for companies to evaluate which Web Content Management solution would be right for their business, we here at CMS-Connected are always happy to see numerous vendors included in the report that we know very well. We often create a few conversations following the release focused on the recognition within the report, and showcase details of the platforms themselves but admittedly, when I reflect on the various businesses, I look through the lens of leadership and wonder what is on the mind of those at the helm of these companies, the CEOs themselves?

Thankfully, upon reaching out, I was fortunate enough to gain access to the great minds leading the organizations represented in the image below. Read on for a few of my personal highlights or to take in the entire conversation with each CEO on their facets of success, simply click on their logo: 

It All Comes Down to People

When inquiring on what these leaders felt were the intrinsic components that made the difference in the success of a company, there was one theme that stood out, here most explicitly made by Aleksander Farstad, eZ Systems’ CEO:“People! eZ was founded on a philosophy that innovation happens at the interaction between people. Success happens when you can attract, maintain and grow talented people, in an open culture, sharing information and knowledge.”

Sören Stamer, CoreMedia’s CEO, brilliantly built on this idea by explaining how hiring and growing great talent can snowball into success: "Great talents want to work with great talents. They want to learn from and with them. They want to solve interesting problems and build beautiful things. They want to be able to be themselves and be recognized for who they are. This can be a kind of virtuous circle. Creating it is a core responsibility of any CEO."

That interaction however, doesn’t exist solely between colleagues. Mark Barrenechea, CEO and CTO of OpenText, shows that even when leading an organization, gleaning knowledge from those around you is always considered in best practice: “You do not need to be the smartest person in the room, but you need to be the best student and ask lots of questions. This means listening – to your employees, your management team, but most importantly to your customers.”

Riding the Waves

Petr Palas, CEO of Kentico, made a great analogy when he discussed success: “As a technology company, you need to constantly watch the waves and make sure you jump on the right wave at the right time. This is the most dynamic part of the mix and also the most risky one which is why many technology companies get stuck at some point of their evolution by playing it safe and getting disrupted by new entrants.” So what are the waves his fellow CEOs in the space are seeing from the shore?

The first one I noticed, was content: “We see digital is moving beyond the web and we see that it is content that fuels digital success. This is accelerating, with apps, mobile, IoT and more things to come. However, most Web Content Management systems are still purely Web centric, and not content centric. This is not a good fit for this new digital world.” states Aleksander Farstad, CEO of eZ Systems.

“Content is still king in the digital world,” says Mark Duffell, Episerver’s CEO, “WCM will continue to grow in importance as commerce becomes more digital. As the digital terrain becomes the primary point of contact between consumers and brands, successful companies will meet consumers online with digital experiences that help them through the buying process the way a store associate would. That’s why personalization is such a hot topic right now. And with the increasing power of machine learning, we’re going to see experiences become even more personalized, to the point that marketers will be able to segment down to the individual level and target individual consumers based on their distinct journey.”

The Content Explosion 

Content has reigned over the digital business world for a while now, but seems to be in an almost explosive phase, setting in motion the acceleration of these leading WCM systems empowering marketer’s to deliver the experience so in demand from consumers. Willem Rossieau, CEO of GX Software sees this firsthand: “We see our customers implementing strategies that reflect the need to interact with audiences in real-time based on smart customer profiles and relevant personal content experiences. WCM is to become the focal point in digital strategies more and more and it will be required to assemble: channels, content, data, orchestration and applications to create and always deliver the best customer experience.”  


The creation of these strategies has hit a truly blinding pace, as mentioned here by Thomas Erickson, Acquia’s current CEO: “Today’s consumer expects a seamless experience across all touchpoints, at anytime, anywhere. As a result, digital teams are racing to spin up marketing sites, campaign sites, product sites, you name it. This explosion of content is helping us reach our customers where they are. It’s also contributing to an enormous amount of multisite management and data complexity. Digital teams want smarter systems -- across multiple data sets, multiple systems of record, and multiple systems of engagement -- so they can make data-driven decisions that transform and elevate the customer experience. Across every sector we see organizations are working with a heightened sense of urgency to implement systems of intelligence and convert customer insight to better business outcomes.” 

My POV

Amidst their commentary on leadership applicable to every industry, there was a common understanding on the Web Content Management space peeking through to me. The relationship between people, content and experiences is becoming more symbiotic as time moves on. Digital teams are leading customers to water so to speak, but the customers are showing us the ways in which they want to drink, or in this case, consume. This is causing a chain reaction of innovation within WCM systems to meet the demands of the digital teams rising to the occasion of this elevated experience and in that, they are finding more and more ways to strategize that delivery, creating new ways for WCM solutions to facilitate that execution. 

LAURA MYERS

A digital business, marketing and social media enthusiast, Laura thrives on asking unique, insightful questions to ignite conversation. At an event or remotely, she enjoys any opportunity to connect with like-minded people in the industry.

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When it Comes to Digital Transformation, Complacency is Not an Option

June 14, 2017

By Jim Panagas and Duncan Hendy

CHANNEL: Digital Experience

We live in a digital age where the rate of change is almost incalcuable. Whatever tools or technologies your business relies on today could be obsolete by tomorrow.

Companies have no time to rest and take a breather. Keeping up to date requires businesses to monitor emerging technology and make the right call as to when it’s time to bring new technology onboard.

So how do you do that, given the staggering number of vendors and solutions out there? By doing your homework, asking lots of questions, and making informed decisions with your eyes wide open.

It Comes Down to Solving Business Problems

We spoke with a few practitioners to hear what tips they would share to stay ahead of the curve.

Jeff Mihalich, director of sales and marketing at Brecksville, Ohio-based Codesummit  recommended shaking off the technology-specific focus. As Mihalich said, “You don’t need a particular technology. You need to solve a business problem. If the technology helps, that’s a reason to buy it. If it’s something you just feel you need to bring in because everybody else is using it, then there’s probably not a good business case for it.”

However, if it is the right technology for your business, continued Mihalich, “See if you can bite it off in small chunks. Don’t try to throw all these cutting-edge technologies into one basket, because you’ll probably end up failing and not doing what you need to do, which is sell your products and services.”

Digital Transformation Doesn’t Come Easy

Digital transformation encompasses numerous business considerations, including cost, learning curve, migration strategy and a host of technical concerns.

And while it brings with it the possibility of an incredibly positive change for the business, there’s the human element to consider as well. The reality is that people don’t like change. They have a comfort zone, and being forced to leave that zone can lead to a great deal of resistance.

Having senior management stand firmly behind the introduction of new systems and new technologies from the outset can go a long way towards alleviating those fears. Buy-in from the senior team sends a message that the new technology is a strategic move wanted by and desired by the business.

It also helps to have management articulate the many advantages of embracing new technology … rather than facing the risk of the business being overtaken by competitors.

Not Just About Technology

That being said, it’s important to realize digital transformation isn’t just about technology. It’s about changing the way that businesses work.

“It’s about what kind of results you can achieve for the business,” said Vince Mayfield, CEO at Fort Walton Beach, Fla.-based Bit-Wizards. He added, “It used to be in marketing that you threw some stuff up on the wall and hopefully you had good data behind it. But now, we’ve got some awesome data systems interpreting and analyzing that data.”

A Long-Term Initiative Rather Than a Short-Term Fix

Finally, businesses must recognize that digital transformation is not a one-time, short-term fix. Rather, it’s an ongoing series of initiatives designed to improve agility and push businesses closer to their customers than ever before.

It’s more akin to a watershed moment that fundamentally changes the business — for the better.

Brian McKeiver, solution architect at Allendale, Mich.-based BizStream anticipates a bright future, where a company’s digital marketing solution receives customer information from multiple real-time feeds so the content truly matches what the customer is looking for. 

“The amount of new technology is going to be incredible,” said McKeiver. “A lot of it will be API-first … leveraging new techniques and different channels. Maybe you need to make a native mobile app, a smart watch app, as well as a website that's responsive on a mobile phone. Having data that's structured and available to you, to be able to build on whatever platform, whatever front end technology — that's where the future is going to be.”

The Moral of the Story

The moral of the story is to be vigilant. 

Regardless of how smoothly your digital systems are operating today, keep your eye on the horizon. Stay informed. Chat regularly with your customers and vendors. Read what both analysts and editors have to say. Have a discussion with a solution partner that’s closer to the technology than you are. 

Yes, it’s a fast moving digital marketplace out there. But if you keep your eyes wide open and make the right moves, success is there for the taking.

About the Authors

Jim Panagas is a Boston-based marketing and communications professional who has served as high as the VP Marketing level. His accomplishments include founding and managing a marketing agency serving technology clients exclusively.

Originally from the UK, Duncan Hendy is content strategy manager at Kentico Software in Brno, the Czech Republic. When not working, Duncan composes classical music, including for the Brno Filharmonie for Mendel: The Legacy, broadcast in 19 countries.

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Kentico's CEO, Petr Palas on Leadership and the Future of Web Content Management

June 14, 2017

By Laura Myers

Every year, Gartner publishes its report, The Magic Quadrant for Web Content Management, and every year the industry waits to see where and how those little blue dots will move about, as a reflection of Gartner’s in-depth analysis of leading vendors. 

Looked upon by many as a guide for companies to evaluate which Web Content Management solution would be right for their business, we here at CMS-Connected are always happy to see numerous vendors included in the report that we know very well. We often create a few conversations following the release focused on the recognition within the report, and showcase details of the platforms themselves but admittedly, when I reflect on the various businesses, I look through the lens of leadership and wonder what is on the mind of those at the helm of these companies, the CEOs themselves? Thankfully, upon reaching out, I was fortunate enough to gain access to the great mind of Kentico's CEO, Petr Palas, to discuss leadership, Kentico's recognitions by Gartner, and what trends and innovatons he sees on the horizon. 

As CEO, what do you feel are the fundamental elements to leading a successful company?

"I believe the success of every technology company stands on three pillars: people, product and innovation. Jim Collins, the author of my favorite book 'Good to Great', says that you need to start with getting the right people on the bus. We've been lucky to build a strong and aligned team, starting from the management team down to individual developers, customer success engineers and sales people. Secondly, it's the product. For a technology company, having a strong product is everything. You can fake it by nice marketing only until someone comes and provides your customers with a much better solution to your needs. That brings me to the third pillar, which is innovation. As a technology company, you need to constantly watch the waves and make sure you jump on the right wave at the right time. This is the most dynamic part of the mix and also the most risky one which is why many technology companies get stuck at some point of their evolution by playing it safe and getting disrupted by new entrants."
 

What do you feel Kentico has done to contribute to their recognition in the Gartner Magic Quadrant and how do you intend on keeping up that momentum?

"It's hard to name one particular thing. It's rather the overall Kentico story. We've been in the market for 13 years, always growing and profitable, without any investors. We earned that recognition by sticking to our longterm vision and values and working tirelessly to bring value to our customers and partners, without fancy words and shortcuts. We plan to continue doing what made us successful: listening to our customers, innovating the product and growing our relationships with digital agencies that represent the core of our business." 
 

What are your thoughts on the WCM space? For example, what trends do you see on the horizon or where do you think we will see the most innovation in the coming months?

"We believe the industry is approaching just another inflection point and the traditional CMS products will face a disruption from cloud-first headless products that will provide higher agility that is so important for companies that go through digital transformation. What we repeatedly see with our partner agencies is that the headless approach allows them to move from waterfall to much more agile planning which results in a better allocation of people's time and shorter time to market.

When I say cloud-first, I mean CMS products built as true multitenant Software as a Service. Many vendors offer their on-premise products through their managed hosting or Platform as a Service plans. However, neither of these models provides the true benefits of the cloud.

Our vision is, however, much broader than just a headless CMS. We are the first vendor providing a digital experience platform as true SaaS. Also, we recognize the need to empower non-technical roles who do not want to depend on developers for things like creating a landing page and we will provide a solution that combines the benefits of headless core with channel-specific functionality." 

LAURA MYERS

A digital business, marketing and social media enthusiast, Laura thrives on asking unique, insightful questions to ignite conversation. At an event or remotely, she enjoys any opportunity to connect with like-minded people in the industry.

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Study: Location-based Marketing, Big Data Ranked Top Aussie Digital Marketing Opportunities

June 07, 2017

by CORINNE NOLTE

Half of all Aussie digital marketing professionals believe location-based marketing presents the greatest opportunity to the industry in Australia, ahead of big data and the Internet of Things (IoT), according to surveys undertaken at the recent Kentico Roadshow.

While the outlook for the local digital marketing sector is positive, research indicated there are challenges ahead, with 55.7 per cent of conference attendees saying that the inability to harness big data, or being overwhelmed by big data, was a major challenge facing Aussie digital marketers.

Wayne Jasek, director of Asia-Pacific operations at Kentico Software noted that despite a lot of industry attention on the impact of ad-blocking technologies and their potential to limit the effectiveness of targeting audiences online, only a small minority of industry professionals saw ad-blockers as a threat to their work.

The study also found that 55 per cent of attendees believe that businesses are not providing enough fresh or personalised content on their online platforms for audiences.

“Today, personalised online content is critical,” Jasek said.

“Delivering personalised, dynamic content across all digital channels means that a business is keeping visitors on its pages longer, which in turn increases their conversion rate.”

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Interview with Jim Panagas at Kentico Roadshow Boston

June 05, 2017

Interview with Jim Panagas at Kentico Roadshow Boston 2017

By Venus Tamturk

June 5, 2017

Kentico has recently switched its conference concept from a single traditional annual global event like 404 Conference, where CMS-Connected was a media sponsor and recorded the CMS-Connected Show with a live audience last year, to a series of one-day events taking place in seven cities across the globe, called Kentico Roadshow. Earlier last month, as a CMS-Connected tech reporter, I was invited to attend the Boston edition of the 2017 Kentico Roadshow to capture the buzz directly from the event floor, and as the event was winding down, I was fortunate enough to sit down with James (Jim) Panagas, Director of PR and Analyst Relations at Kentico Software to chat about their new event concept, some of the common themes he heard from attendees of Kentico Roadshow, and the creative side of marketing automation.
 

How the Idea of Kentico Roadshow was Born

Before getting into the digital marketing-related discussion, Jim explained how the idea of Kentico Roadshow was born. With the goal of conveying the best information for their customers and partners, Jim told me that they have decided to go to where their customers and partners live, rather than having that community come to them. He proudly noted that so far, the new concept has generated very lucrative results, including the increased number of attendees and the heightened level of collaboration. Regarding what to expect from the rest and the future of the Roadshow, he indicated that they would stick to the same agenda which includes engaging presentations on Kentico’s dual rail strategy with Kentico EMS and Kentico Cloud as well as intriguing case studies from partners and customers. That way, the community will not only be informed about the updates and the vendor’s overall strategy but they will also get a chance to see how these solutions work and what business outcomes and different types of use cases are from both their peers’ presentations on the stage and the peer-to-peer connections at networking events.

To me, the industry events are great places to collect epic stories and lessons learned from cross-disciplinarian practitioners such as customers, marketers, developers, business leaders, tech leaders, and e-commerce managers. Therefore, I, personally, liked the idea of Kentico Roadshow as it gives you a great chance to mingle with the entire spectrum of Kentico community.

Balancing Technology and Creativity

Knowing Jim has interacted with every single attendee with his friendly and pleasant demeanor, I asked him about the most common themes resonating with people he has spoken with on the event floor. Noting there are so many, he emphasized one particular subject which is the creative side of the marketing automation process because as having been a seasoned marketer in the space, he, personally, sees this as an important issue. “What we are seeing is that the marketplace is a little bit too heavy focused on just the technology and not enough, in my view, paying attention to content and creativity of the process,” said Jim. He spoke from his experience and reflected on his observation: “When I joined the marketing industry, it was much more creatively driven, today, on the other hand, it is much more technology heavy.”

I couldn’t agree with him more on this concern as with the ever-rising influence of machine learning and artificial intelligence, so many brands have lost sight of the uniqueness that the creativity brings. If you only focus on the technology aspect of content marketing, you will eventually lose ground to organizations that provide their employees with resources like time to be creative and make them feel that creativity is their part of the business. The reason is that the technology automates and optimizes what is already known by organizing and putting it in the most meaningful and systematic way. It is great but to me, it also means that your rival can get more or less the same results if they have the same technology and similar sets of data. In other words, no one has the edge in this case. Humans, on the other hand, can create unique ideas and knit them with their already developed logical and rational process. So the best results don’t come to battle for supremacy between machines and humans, but the collaboration of both - incorporating the benefits of the technology into human beings’ creativity. Therefore, during our interview, Jim explained where we can take advantage of both the most: “Creating well-written, well-designed messages that resonate is the core. Then, you want to throw these marketing automation systems in which are wonderful to disseminate those messages through multiple channels, automation, email, websites, and so forth. However, the fixation on the technology alone concerns me. The technology is wonderful, but you have to pay close attention to both sides of the equation.”

Obviously, Jim Panagas and I are not alone in identifying a direct correlation between technological advancement and declining creative standards happening in today’s marketplace as HSBC’s former head of marketing in EMEA Philip Mehl declared in an interview: “Marketing used to be a creative challenge but it’s a data challenge now.” Mehl also claimed that brands today primarily compete on how well they can target consumers, rather than on the quality of their ideas.

I think marketing automation platforms indirectly help marketers to do their jobs in a more creative way as they significantly free up time for marketers to be more genuinely creative. On a related note, Jim made a great point saying that organizations should ask: “Do we have a right mix of people and skills?” He added: “Not just people who run the automation systems but also people who compose those messages.” He believes that sending out a short burst of information with the right words and imagery is a very paramount task because as a business, “you have one shot as somebody opens an email and if it doesn’t resonate with them, they will delete the mail - maybe even block you. So you want to make sure the right messages are sent is a right way.”

Growing Sophistication of Kentico’s Partner Channel

Before we rolled the camera, Jim told me about a new journey that Kentico partners embarked on where they will collaborate together to pitch larger clients in order to close bigger deals. Regarding the question of growing sophistication of Kentico’s partner channel, he said in the interview: “This is beyond getting together at the meetings to share ideas and business trends as they recognized that this partner is stronger at landing pages, this partner here is stronger at online marketing, while another particular partner is stronger at website design, so they are taking the best abilities of each partner, pulling those resources to go after a bigger piece of businesses with larger corporations that they wouldn’t be able to do before.” He also indicated that while Kentico surely would help if needed, this initiative takes off on its own. I loved the idea as much as I loved the way he put this as; “Best-of-Breed Kentico Partners”.

This represents not only a new revenue stream for partners but also a great opportunity for Kentico to increase the adoption rate of its Kentico EMS and Kentico Cloud. However, at the end of the day, it is a great win for end-users as they will have a peace of mind by having the best skills of every team working on their next big digital projects.

My POV

For the CMS-Connected team, with all of the transparency and wisdom we know Jim Panagas for, he is one of the industry insiders that it is always a great pleasure to chat with. Yet again, the conversation I had with him at Kentico Roadshow Boston was informative and inspirational. The points he made on underestimation of the role of creativity were something that needs to be discussed more in the industry.

One of my favorite Albert Szent-Gyorgyi quotes is "Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought," and to me, this exactly applies to the process of content curation as I see it as a bit of a discovery of what truly resonates with your audience and rings the bell in their mind. But again, as Jim pointed out during the interview, both sides of the equation, technology and content, should be thoroughly considered.
 
No doubt, it must be very tiring for the Kentico team to go city by city across the globe, I appreciated their effort to visit users where they live so customers and partners can be expertly informed of best practices, the overall strategies, and emerging trends in the industry to take their digital businesses to the next level. This concept is not only less time-consuming for users but also more convenient to mingle with other users that locate in the same region. For the CMS-Connected team, though, it was a great experience as we had a unique chance to soak up all those different invaluable perspectives from the Kentico Community and brought so much unique content back with us for our audience. To binge on all of our exclusive content from the event, please check back to our website in the upcoming days as we will publish our interviews with Kentico leadership; Petr Palas, Founder and CEO, and  Karol Jarkovsky, Director of Product.

VENUS TAMTURK

Venus is the Media Reporter for CMS-Connected, with one of her tasks to write thorough articles by creating the most up-to-date and engaging content using B2B digital marketing. She enjoys increasing brand equity and conversion through the strategic use of social media channels and integrated media marketing plans.

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Prove Content Marketing's ROI with These Seven Solutions

June 02, 2017

By Bart Omlo, Sales Director for EMEA at Kentico Software

"Today's B2B and B2C consumers have never been easier to reach. Yet at the same time, they have never been more difficult to reach. How is that possible? Well first consider the range of communication options that people have today. It’s already huge. And it’s growing. Today people have email, voicemail and text messages. They have a full range of social media outlets from Twitter to Instagram. And they have more LCD screens in their future with each passing day, from the elevator in their building to the gas pump at their local service station. So people are facing a barrage of messages every hour of every day.

That being said, it’s all important to deliver the right content at the right moment via the right channel to ensure high conversion rates when targeting potential customers. That necessitates a marketing platform that enables you to create personalized content suitable for various channels and deliver that content at the appropriate time. You need real-time dashboards to see which content is the most effective, the ability to conduct A/B-testing for performance improvements, and marketing automation to ensure proper follow-up and remarketing. 

The goal is to create marketing campaigns that stand out and measure their effectiveness by setting conversion goals and adjust the campaign while it is running."

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